On 13 March 2020, we celebrate World Sleep Day. Organised by World Sleep Society, World Sleep Day serves to commemorate and raise awareness of sleep as a human privilege that is so often compromised by modern-day habits.
In this spirit, we, at hoolah, find ourselves asking the most important question: “Are we sleeping enough?”
Chances are, we aren’t.
In fact, Singaporeans are known to be one of the most sleep-deprived people on the planet. A 2016 study on sleep schedules across different countries found that Singapore was the lowest ranking country where citizens spent slightly more than 7 hours sleeping, while a 2018 survey by Wakefield Research placed Singapore as the second most sleep-deprived nation among the other twelve countries. This year, a study by health technology company Royal Phillips revealed that Singaporeans spend on average around 6.9 hours of sleep every night, which is still below the average recommendation of 6 to 7 hours of sleep every night.
In between shift works, stress, insomnia, and even late-night parental duties, there are myriad reasons that contribute to sleep deprivation. This, in turn, can lead to potential health problems such as heart diseases or obesity.
The War Against Sleep Deprivation
As awareness of such detriments increases, many have taken the initiative to promote having sufficient rest at night. Recently in Singapore, a group of university students from Nanyang Technological University’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information successfully kick-started a month-long health campaign to encourage university students to engage in healthy sleeping habits that hopefully, aid in healthy weight-management. Their campaign, entitled “Snooze to Lose“, saw 400 university students signing up for a digital sleep challenge (where each of them vowed to sleep at least 8 hours every night) that spanned across 31 days.
Beyond students-led initiatives, insurances have also been known to taken the initiative to encourage people to sleep more too. In 2019, AIA launched an initiative which rewarded people who clocked 7 hours of sleep through the AIA Vitality App.
How To Sleep Better?
But in a world of incessant connectivity and responsibilities, can we really sleep more and in turn, sleep better? Turns out, we can and the steps to do so is not as difficult as you think they are!
1. Lights Out
In the day, we are likely to have spent ample time staring at the digital screens and in doing so, get exposed to blue light. Known to otherwise disrupt our circadian rhythm (our wake and sleep cycle), plenty of research today suggest that we can gather a good night’s rest by steering clear from sleeping with any light sources or staring at our phones prior to sleeping.
Opt to draw curtains with dark linings at night, or consider placing your phone away from your bed! If not, wearing the classic sleep mask may just do the right trick.
2. Walk More
Walking that extra mile while on your supermarket runs might just be a good (although somewhat seemingly unlikely) way for you to get a better shut-eye tonight.
Last year, The New York Times reported a new and promising lifestyle study that revealed that “taking more steps in the day may be related to better sleep at night.” This is interesting considering how some research had pointed that an active lifestyle, particularly those with strenuous activities, may lead to poorer sleep.
3. Tuck In Right
From stiff shoulders to low libido, bad mattresses can lead to a world of problems. In this regard, you probably wouldn’t be surprise if a poor mattress or bed can cause poor quality rest. Which is why it is always wise to have them tested out before making a full long-term commitment.
4. Ring It Louder
Beyond learning how to sleep, one needs to learn how to wake up too. There are plenty of benefits of being a morning person, including increased productivity, but I digress.
For some, a good night’s rest is often regulated by a fixed circadian clock. To achieve that or any attempts to rouse early would require commitment.
For starters, you can consider getting a louder alarm clock. Interestingly, research has also suggests that female voices and multi-pitched alarms are more likely to rouse you than a high-pitched alarm.
5. Adopt A Bed Time Routine
Considering how many of us have morning routines of their own to kick-start our day, it also makes sense for us to have a routine of sorts to prepare us to sleep at night. Here’re some of our recommendations that you can do prior to sleeping:
- Read a book.
- Listen to ASMR.
- Have a warm cup of chamomile tea.
- Light a scented candle.
As the war against sleep deprivation continues to persist (and it will for a long time), we should all remain committed to putting in little steps to maintain a healthy sleep-cycle — that is to sleep and wake on time. Because somehow deep down we know, snoozers are losers.